About a year ago I wrote an article about nVidia’s attempt to use it’s video graphics cards to accelerate transcoding. H.264 was fast becoming the gold standard for desktop video, video sharing through social networking websites, and for viewing on handheld devices. In the time since then, Badaboom entered the market and has gone through a revision of it’s original GPU accelerated transcoding software. Apple is now touting OpenCL as the API through which any software can access the potential of using all those graphics pipelines to accelerate parallel operations off of the CPU. nVidia is supporting OpenCL whole hog and I think there is some hope Microsoft won’t try to undermine it too much though it’s standing strong with DirectX as the preferred API for anything that talks to a graphics card for any reason.
So where does AMD with it’s ATI card fit into the universe of GPU accelerated software? According to Anandtech, it doesn’t fit in at all. The first attempts at providing transcoding have proved a Big Fail. While Badaboom outlcasses it at every turn in the transcoded video it produces. Hopefully OpenCL can be abstracted enough to cover AMD and nVidia’s product offerings with a single unified interface to allow acceleration to occur much more easily as citizen of the OS. Talking directly to the metal is only going to provide headaches down the road as OSes are updated and drivers change. But even with that level of support, it looks like AMD’s not quite got the hang of this yet. Hopefully they can spare a few engineers and a few clock cycles and take Avivo out of alpha prototype stage and show off what they can do. The biggest disappointment of all is that even the commercial transcoder from Cyberlink using the ATI card didn’t match up to Badaboom on nVidia.
A few months ago, we tested AMD’s AVIVO Video Converter. AMD had just enabled video transcode acceleration on the GPU, and they wanted to position their free utility as competition to CUDA enabled (and thus NVIDIA only) Badaboom. Certainly, for a free utility, we would not expect the same level of compatibility and quality as we would from a commercial application like Badaboom. But what we saw really didn’t even deliver what we would expect even from a free application.